Report provided by Brian Kehoe, NYBC Executive Director
Unseasonably wintry, one could even say “New York style,” weather settled onto Washington DC on the third day of the National Bike Summit. Over 700 passionate advocates of the swiftly expanding movement for bicycling equity had gone to bed the previous night uncertain whether the federal government would be closed for the day because of an expected large snow fall. Indeed, many federal offices were closed and numerous scheduled Congressional meetings were cancelled. But, along with intrepid colleagues from all 50 states, members of the New York delegation marched over to Senate and Congressional office buildings for meetings with members and staff. More than twenty New Yorkers traveled to DC for the Bike Summit and the Congressional meetings.
All New Yorkers met with staff from Senator Schumer’s office for a polite exchange on the importance of federal support for quality access across key bridges. The key theme of this year’s Summit was the economic benefit of bicycling and we shared facts that clearly demonstrate that bicycling creates jobs, creates significant wealth, and has significant multiplier effect. Bike retail, bike events, bike jobs: these were the themes that were carried throughout the halls of Congress today.
After our meeting with Schumer the New York delegation dispersed for meetings with Congress members. Too many of these meetings were needlessly cancelled due to the weather fears. I and two other advocates, Adam and Heather, met with our Representative Chris Gibson for a very productive meeting.
Brian Kehoe and other advocates met with Representative Chris Gibson
I have attended the past three National Bike Summits. It is a truly professional grade advocacy gathering that gets bicyclists into the halls of power in the same way as other, sometimes competing, interests. Each year the summit seems to get more professional, more serious, pushing us as a movement to produce for our constituents. At these summits, I have met many colleagues from the national bicycle movement and from around the country who have inspired and taught me. These trips have proven to be a platform to tell NYBC’s story and to gather much needed support.
I am proud of the New Yorkers who took time away from their lives to travel to DC to represent the needs of bicycling. Educating Congress members about the benefits of bicycling can feel intimidating and certainly foreign, but it must be done. Thank you to the New York delegation for your tireless dedication to the cause.
See you in 2014!